Problem with large tree with TPO in Conservation Area

Problem with large tree with TPO in Conservation Area

Postby blancy » Wed Jun 04, 2014 1:13 pm

Hello folks,

I have concerns with said tree and am seeking some advice from knowledgeable people if possible. (I have set up an imageshack gallery in order to provide pictures of the problem - link at the end of this post)

I live in a 300 year old cottage in a small village in the Peak District. Next door is a conference and activity centre which was built in the 1930s or thereabouts. They have a low wall around their boundary and less than a metre inside that they have a very large tree. Between our two properties there is a narrow dirt track. The distance from their large tree to the edge of my property is 4.8 metres.
This tree is approx twice the height of my cottage. I'm not sure of the exact type of tree. Peak Park initially claimed it was Austrian Pine, and then later Scots Pine (there are actually two of these trees, one on each side of their gardens). I will measure the diameter of the trunk at 4.5 feet from the ground later today and provide that info after doing so, and the trunk is slightly bent and twisted.

I'm after some advice both about the nuisance factors and what can be done about them, and also about the safety factors and what can be done about them.
My property has a double gabled roof and one of the largest lowest braches of the tree used to hang right over the gulley in the middle. This was cut off about 3 years ago (supervised by Peak park).

So, first issue is the nuisance factor. This tree sheds pine needles throughout the year, though some times are worse than others, usually after bad / windy weather. The tree is unprotected and the wind typically blows tree to cottage direction. Twice a year minimum I have to take my life in my hands climbing onto the roof and clearing literally bucketfuls of pine needles from mine and my neighbours gulleys (my cottage is in a terrace of four - the other three are owned by OAPs and I am a 40something with arthritis). If I don't get up there regularly enough the gulley starts leaking into the house and has caused ceiling / water damage. The needles also block drain pipes regularly and I have to spend days each year clearing the carpet of pine needles from the garden and flower beds etc. and also clearing gutters). So firstly I would like to know if I can employ someone else to carry out this work and pass the cost on to the tree owner (the center is actually owned by the Unitarian church - they seem to have plenty of cash to spend on various building work / maintennce / improvements etc.). (See photos to see gutters full to the brim and the small lawn / flower beds partially invisible beneath the blanket of needles)

In addition to the pine needles I also have a problem with the tree causing my cream painted cottage to turn green! I spent days power washing the building a couple of years ago (again risking life using a power washer at the top of the longest ladders I could borrow - damn cold too once you're soaking wet too!). I couldn't quite get the very top of the gables but managed to make the rest of the building look a lot better by removing the majority of the green. Unfortunately it is as green as ever again now (see photos), so I would like to know if this consitutues nuisance and whether I can employ a thrid party to clean the house and pass the cost on to the tree owner.


And so, onto the safety issues. As mentioned earlier this tree is very large now, twice the height of my cottage at least I would estimate (see photos). It sits directly opposite the main bedroom and if it were to fall during the night it would mostly likely be a fatal incident - If the tree itself did not cast the fatal blow then the 2 foot thick stone wall it would push onto me and my partner most certainly would. Due to the exposed position of the tree and the fierce winds we sometimes get windy nights are often rather sleepless with worry.

The bulk of the village is in a Conservation Area (including my cottage) and 2.5 years ago myself and several other nearby residents recived notice of a TPO on these 2 trees and we were asked to write in with any objections. I wrote a three page letter voicing objections and concerns, asking questions as to safety issues and inconvenience issues. I never received even a courtesy reply. Several neighbours also wrote in voicing their objections and again no-one received any acknowledgement or reply. No-one in the village likes these trees. They dominate the immediate area and just cause mess. Peak Park have come up with various reasons that they cannot be cut down, initially claiming they were Austian pine and native to the Peak district!, then Scots pines, then that the reason they should stay is because when the centre next door was planned the plan included framing it with two trees. I asked to see these original plans as I could not believe the designers planned such monstrosities but as previously mentioned no-one received any reply from the Peak Park when objecting to the TPO. I personally have no objection to two reasonable sized trees framing the centre, but these 2 are now dwarfing not framing!

So I am worried about the prospect of the tree coming down in bad weather, destroying my cottage, possibly killing. I am also concerned about the root system doing damage - the centre's boundary wall is mildly buckled and cracked already on my side (see photos), and on the other side that tree actually caused the boundary wall to fall down! (since repaired). I have not found good information about the possible size of the tree's root system, apart from reading that they can be extensive - would you expect this to be under my house by now? I read that most trees in the UK have a significant radial root system, extending one to one-and-a-half times the height of the tree!! I found the chart here:

trees.html (on the gardenlaw site)

but there is no mention of the scots pine (if that is what this tree even is?).


I asked the centre is any kind of safety inspection has been done on the trees - they were not interested in talking about it. I also asked the same when voicing objections to the TPO and again no response - Times are hard and I can't afford to finance an expert myself, and to be honest I feel it should be their responsibility not mine - A couple of years ago I raised my safety concerns with the centre's manager but she was not interested.

I have recently written another letter which I was planning to send to the same TPO people, asking again for a response to my original questions and concerns, but I've not yet posted this as I thought it would be better to try and get some independent advice from a suitable forum first if possible. I also need to rewrite it to tone it down a tad (I wrote it whilst being wound up about not receiving a response for over 2 years to the original objections/queries). My alternative is to request an appointment at their offices to discuss in person, but again it would be better if I were forearmed with some independent advice :)

I try to remain calm about the situation but it is somewhat depressing as it is a relentless job to keep the cottage and garden clear and looking nice (I've had enough and am not putting the time required into it anymore), and also a bit annoying as it feels like the Peak Park is prioritising a relatively modern building and non-native oversize tree over the original character buildings and style of this old lead mining village, and also I fear for my property and life during bad weather. Their (Peak Park) lack of response and concern to the residents' objections is another disappointing factor but unfortunately was not that unexpected by villagers who have tried to discuss these trees with them previously.

I am *under the impression* (second hand info) that the centre that owns the trees do not particularly like them either! Not sure how true that is, nor whether it makes any difference to anything?


Other questions:

- Is my home insurance under threat in any way due to this tree? I've seen in one post elsewhere that reckoned trees too close to your house can invalidate your insurance but could not find further details on this, apart from someone agreeing with that saying "Yes under either or both of trespass and nuisance law"

- is there any way I can push for either Peak Park or the tree owner to have an independent Safety assessment carried out?

- is the (relatively slight) lean unusual and cause for additional concern?

- should the tree come down causing serious damage would they be liable as I have previously raised concerns and asked whether it has been independently assessed for safety?


Many thanks to anyone who can provide any guidance / input on any of this.

I have photos which show quite clearly the height and proximity of the tree, and also the nuisance caused by the pine needles and green colouring. These can be seen here:


** Darn, it seems I am not allowed to post url links! **

I was attempting to link to an imageshack gallery (a/xFNq/1)
Can anyone advise how I can provide the gallery link, or alternatively attach the photos to this post?


Any problems viewing the gallery, or any other info that would be helpful please fire away and I shall try to provide.


Many thanks (and apologies for the lengthy post!)

John
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Re: Problem with large tree with TPO in Conservation Area

Postby Treeman » Wed Jun 04, 2014 5:52 pm

OK

First off forget the native / non native thing, its irrelevant and clouding the issue.

What is relevant is public amenity and that means (generally) visibility.

The issue of the needles and greening is moot to the TPO, they are not valid reasons to grant consent to fell.

To answer your specific questions


- Is my home insurance under threat in any way due to this tree? I've seen in one post elsewhere that reckoned trees too close to your house can invalidate your insurance but could not find further details on this, apart from someone agreeing with that saying "Yes under either or both of trespass and nuisance law"
Only your insurers can answer that

- is there any way I can push for either Peak Park or the tree owner to have an independent Safety assessment carried out?
The peak park aren't responsible for the tree, the TPO infers no duty of care on the authority. The tree owner has a duty of care but the best you can do is remind them of this. There is nothing you can do to force them to inspect the tree.

- is the (relatively slight) lean unusual and cause for additional concern?
Don't know, a picture might help but the only way to be sure would be an inspection with the Mk1 eyeball

- should the tree come down causing serious damage would they be liable as I have previously raised concerns and asked whether it has been independently assessed for safety?
Liability would come down to reasonable foreseeability.

Make three posts and you can include links to your pictures
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Re: Problem with large tree with TPO in Conservation Area

Postby blancy » Thu Jun 05, 2014 8:51 am

Thanks for the reply Treeman.

I was not suggesting the needles and greening nuisance could be a valid reason to fell (though that would be nice!), but more whether I could pass the cost of cleanup of these nuisances on to the tree owner. The needle problem in particular is just dire as the photos will show


I am going to break my reply into two posts in order to supply pictures as they will help allow visualisation the situation, hope that's ok

John
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Re: Problem with large tree with TPO in Conservation Area

Postby blancy » Thu Jun 05, 2014 9:05 am

They did mention amenity in their TPO originally yes. It is frustrating as no-one in the village really likes these two trees (there are only 30 or so dwellings here). I don't see the amenity in green houses and needle-blanketed gardens etc but each to their own I suppose :)


With this being my third post now I can follow it with one showing pictures of the nuisance factors and also the size, proximity and lean of the tree in question

One other thing to bear in mind is that we get quite bad winds up here, particularly at night, and these winds typically blow from the tree direction towards my dwelling. That tree can move some I tell you - it can be quite daunting, but of course the folks applying the TPO don't see that, nor do they seem very interested.

If I have any kind of case to protest against the TPO I am more than happy to visit them to discuss face to face.


thanks in advance for any thoughts

John
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Re: Problem with large tree with TPO in Conservation Area

Postby blancy » Thu Jun 05, 2014 9:21 am

Height and proximity:
Image
Image

Height and lean:
Image
Image

Trunk looks a bit twisted and a slight bend (just at the bottom of the visible trunk here - I can try and get a clearer picture of this if it helps)
Image

Damaging their boundary wall:
Image
Image


Nuisance factors:
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
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Re: Problem with large tree with TPO in Conservation Area

Postby Treeman » Thu Jun 05, 2014 9:28 am

blancy wrote:Thanks for the reply Treeman.

I was not suggesting the needles and greening nuisance could be a valid reason to fell (though that would be nice!), but more whether I could pass the cost of cleanup of these nuisances on to the tree owner. The needle problem in particular is just dire as the photos will show


I am going to break my reply into two posts in order to supply pictures as they will help allow visualisation the situation, hope that's ok

John


Unfortunately not, the law holds that the leaves (needles) and other detritus that falls naturally from trees is under the influence of nature and the tree owner is not responsible.
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Re: Problem with large tree with TPO in Conservation Area

Postby MacadamB53 » Thu Jun 05, 2014 12:43 pm

Hi Treeman,

no-one in the village really likes these two trees (there are only 30 or so dwellings here)

do the village not have a say in what they consider their amenity?

is there a mechanism they could use to consult with the authority or seek a higher decision?

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Problem with large tree with TPO in Conservation Area

Postby TO » Thu Jun 05, 2014 1:13 pm

Hi

MacadamB53 wrote:is there a mechanism they could use to consult with the authority or seek a higher decision?
Consultation was carried out when the TPO was made and taken into account when deciding to confirm it. However, they could apply to fell the trees and if refused appeal to the Secretary of State via the Planning Inspectorate. Even if they get consent it doesn't mean to say the felling will happen unless the consent of the tree owner, and that's not the OP, is forthcoming.

TO
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Re: Problem with large tree with TPO in Conservation Area

Postby blancy » Thu Jun 05, 2014 3:58 pm

Many thanks for the input so far folks.


MacadamB53 wrote:do the village not have a say in what they consider their amenity?


The TPO was taken out by the Peak District National Park Authority I believe, and it was they who deemed these two trees an amenity despite residents' protestations to the contrary.

http://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/

It is this organisation that I was planning to visit as my first point of call to discuss the situation with if options are deemed available (although if it turns out that I would be better off bypassing them and talking to an alternative organisation I shall endeavour to do so instead).

From their website, their purpose is to:
"- conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage
- promote opportunities for the understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of national parks by the public
If there’s a conflict between these two purposes, conservation takes priority.
In carrying out these aims, we are also required to seek to foster the economic and social well-being of local communities within the national park."


TO wrote:Consultation was carried out when the TPO was made and taken into account when deciding to confirm it. However, they could apply to fell the trees and if refused appeal to the Secretary of State via the Planning Inspectorate. Even if they get consent it doesn't mean to say the felling will happen unless the consent of the tree owner, and that's not the OP, is forthcoming.


Is it possible to get proof that objections to the TPO were actually registered? I only ask as there was never any acknowledgement to any residents' objection letters.
And regarding consent of the tree owner to felling, that might not be out of the question. Goings on next door are somewhat cloaked in mystery but I wonder if rumblings of discontent from them about these trees may have even prompted Peak Park to issue the TPO in the first place as I did hear (second hand info though) that they weren't keen on them either!
To date I have not found them to be the friendliest / most communicative folk but if it sounds like there may be potential avenues to explore I shall try and establish communication with their management to clarify their position.


Thanks again,
John
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Re: Problem with large tree with TPO in Conservation Area

Postby APC » Thu Jun 05, 2014 11:09 pm

Nice looking tree! (sorry!!)

Treeman/TO have the legislation side of things well covered.

With regard to the lean, unless this has changed suddenly, this is perfectly normal. The tree will lay down wood where it is under the most stress, in direct reaction to the forces that act against it (wind/gravity). The twist would not normally be something to worry about either (although I say this having not having visited the tree myself). This is as a reaction to uneven wind-loading, perhaps due to being partly sheltered by a building. The tree grows into a twisted shape as the wind blows around the crown, much in the same way your body would twist if you were holding a really big windsock in one hand while standing in a gale. This stress of this uneven loading results in thickening of wood where it is subject to stress, therefore making it more than strong enough to stand through unusually strong winds.

The wall can be rebuilt easily enough with a lintel to float over the roots. Damage to this wall would not be a reason to remove the tree.

The crown looks reasonable, my only concern being the height of the bottom of the crown in relation to the height of the tree. Not necessarily an issue right now, but would certainly refrain from the crown-lifting any further.
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Re: Problem with large tree with TPO in Conservation Area

Postby Treeman » Fri Jun 06, 2014 7:42 am

APC wrote:Nice looking tree! (sorry!!)

Treeman/TO have the legislation side of things well covered.

With regard to the lean, unless this has changed suddenly, this is perfectly normal. The tree will lay down wood where it is under the most stress, in direct reaction to the forces that act against it (wind/gravity). The twist would not normally be something to worry about either (although I say this having not having visited the tree myself). This is as a reaction to uneven wind-loading, perhaps due to being partly sheltered by a building. The tree grows into a twisted shape as the wind blows around the crown, much in the same way your body would twist if you were holding a really big windsock in one hand while standing in a gale. This stress of this uneven loading results in thickening of wood where it is subject to stress, therefore making it more than strong enough to stand through unusually strong winds.

The wall can be rebuilt easily enough with a lintel to float over the roots. Damage to this wall would not be a reason to remove the tree.

The crown looks reasonable, my only concern being the height of the bottom of the crown in relation to the height of the tree. Not necessarily an issue right now, but would certainly refrain from the crown-lifting any further.



It looks like a turd to me, neither tree is a particularly good specimen with atypical crown development. The lower laterals are over extended. This is likely due to the tree being topped or otherwise damaged in the past. The tree will have optimised and adapted to this growth but its far from ideal or typical. The lean looks to be a phototropism and some shading out is apparent on at leas one of the trees.

The above is based on a brief examination of the pictures provided and in no way constitutes a report, nor should it be paraded in front of anyone in support of a TPO application
:lol:

This is not grounds for felling and there is little that can be done to mitigate this
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Re: Problem with large tree with TPO in Conservation Area

Postby MacadamB53 » Fri Jun 06, 2014 8:24 am

Hi blancy,

a solution to the blocked gutter problem - install gutter guards.
a solution to the damaged wall - install a lintel over the roots (is it your wall?)

use the needles as mulch, add to compost heap, bag up and give away, etc.

just trying to help whilst the trees are there...

Kind regards, Mac
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Re: Problem with large tree with TPO in Conservation Area

Postby blancy » Fri Jun 06, 2014 12:11 pm

Thanks so much everyone for taking the time to contribute. Your knowledgeable opinions are very much appreciated.

So it sounds like not much case for getting rid of the 'orrible things. What a shame :( (sorry APC but I agree with Treeman - they (particularly the other one with only half a crown) look like turds :)).

The wall - I am not bothered about it - it is their wall and I was just showing it whilst clutching at straws!

The explanation for twisting sounds feasible based on its partial wind shelter when it was smaller

Gutter guards - I am happy to attempt these, though will they work well against needles? time will tell I guess. I'll still need to get up onto the roof to clear the needles off the gutter guards regularly I guess. It's a shame there are no such things as lawn and flower bed guards too. It is painstaking getting them all up regularly.

Needles for mulch - these needles are like cockroaches - they don't seem to break down at all and seem like they could survive nuclear conditions! I could bag them up but I think I would have to pay people to take them off my hands :)


Very disappointing but it sounds like the only thing I can do then is to send a recorded delivery letter to the tree owner stating my safety concerns about the tree, so that at least I have my concerns officially on record should something happen further down the line. I'll refer to it in my will!!


Thanks again an best regards to all,

John
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Re: Problem with large tree with TPO in Conservation Area

Postby blancy » Fri Jun 06, 2014 12:31 pm

One last thought / straw clutch :)


Would there be any case for the other tree being so ugly with its lop-sided-crown that it should not be classed as an amenity? (The fact that they are a pair was mentioned in the TPO application I believe so if one went the other could well follow)

Image


John
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Re: Problem with large tree with TPO in Conservation Area

Postby MacadamB53 » Fri Jun 06, 2014 3:05 pm

Hi John,

Gutter guards - I am happy to attempt these, though will they work well against needles

there are ones on the market specifically for your situation.

Kind regards, Max
PS I thought mulch wasn't supposed to decompose quickly...
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